I became a Literature major when the college I transferred to didn’t offer Writing.

The thing I liked best about studying lit was deconstructionism. Discovering the reasons why writers wrote what they did, what events influenced their content, and how they integrated strong symbolism into their works. 

I then took the idea of deconstructionism to other art forms. From painting, to film, to music. 

When I was a young man I listened to too much heavy metal. My hearing loss today is directly attributed to attending metal shows with no hearing protection. Because when you’re 16, you’re invincible. And hearing protection at an Iron Maiden concert would be way uncool. 

One of the bands I followed back in the day was Black Sabbath. Only, not the Ozzie version of Sabbath. It wasn’t until Heaven and Hell came out in 1980 that I listened to them. That’s when Ronnie James Dio became the vocalist (and writer) for two albums.

But back in 1980 I didn’t care about deconstructionism. I just knew, like the rest of my metalhead buddies, that angels playing cards and smoking cigarettes on an album titled Heaven and Hell was badass. The music was tight and crisp, unlike the heavy Ozzie stuff, and the lyrics were poetic. Plus, they were delivered with Dio’s unrelenting passion. 

Fast forward to 2017. We have a new president. A guy I loathed when he was just a douchebag celebrity developer in the 80s. This guy swindles people. Always did. He was a casino boss, after all. But alas, he was voted into the most powerful office in the world—and has since been proven to be a bold-faced liar. That’s my take on Trump and I don’t give a damn about his party. But the fact is that thanks in part to #TrumpCulture, facts have become opinions. And that’s a big fucking problem. Throw the idea of #FakeNews in there and nobody knows what to believe anymore. These are dark days when deception and dishonesty are a means of gleaning power. 

And it reminds me of the lyrics from the song Heaven and Hell. 

Sing me a song, you’re a singer

Do me a wrong, you’re a bringer of evil

The devil is never a maker

The less that you give, you’re a taker

So it’s on and on and on, it’s heaven and hell

Oh well

The lover of life’s not a sinner

The ending is just a beginner

The closer you get to the meaning

The sooner you’ll know that you’re dreaming

So it’s on and on and on, oh it’s on and on and on

It goes on and on and on, Heaven and Hell

I can tell

Fool, fool

Oh uh

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Well if it seems to be real, it’s illusion

For every moment of truth, there’s confusion in life

Love can be seen as the answer, but nobody bleeds for the dancer

And it’s on and on, on and on and on and on and on and on and on

They say that life’s a carousel

Spinning fast, you’ve got to ride it well

The world is full of kings and queens

Who blind your eyes and steal your dreams

It’s heaven and hell, oh well

And they’ll tell you black is really white

The moon is just the sun at night

And when you walk in golden halls

You get to keep the gold that falls

It’s heaven and hell, oh no

Fool, fool

You’ve got to bleed for the dancer

Fool, fool

Look for the answer

Fool, fool, fool

On paper you might think – meh, it’s not very catchy. I’ve embedded a video below to disprove that thought. (Don’t fight me on it.) You might also think – it doesn’t really say anything. But you’re wrong. 

Let’s take a look at what’s really happening in this song. Dio (the author) is talking about a world where powerful people have taken control by confusing the masses with lies and deceit. The Truth is literally being hidden by the devil. 

Sing me a song, you’re a singer

Do me a wrong, you’re a bringer of evil 

The devil is never a maker

The less that you give, you’re a taker

I believe that the first two lines are intentionally contradictory–a juxtaposition, if you will. A singer is a maker/creator. A creator is God-like. The second line clearly frames the opposite. The next two lines are intended to reveal that despite his promises, the devil doesn’t “make” anything, and the more you emulate this in your own life, you become a taker (consumer)—or, the opposite of a maker (creator.) 

If God creates (Genesis), then the opposite of this is the devil being a destroyer (taker.) Also of note, artists (including singers and dancers) are also creators/makers. That is, until their light is snuffed out. 

Moving on –

The lover of life’s not a sinner

The ending is just a beginner

The closer you get to the meaning

The sooner you’ll know that you’re dreaming

A great little stanza here. If we’re all sinners, then none of us really love life. That’s weird. Like topsy turvy weird. Also, the ending is just a beginner is another confusing line that could be interpreted in a range of ways (for example, every ending is the beginning of something else—which is true.) But what I think Dio is doing here is starting us off slowly before descending into total confusion as the next two lines begin to directly indicate – The closer you get to the meaning the sooner you’ll know that you’re dreaming. Two really fascinating lines that take us right down into the Truth of the song. He’s literally stating that what you think is true is just your own mind (dreams) playing tricks on you. And everyone knows that dreams aren’t reality. At this point we wonder–what exactly is reality? 

Then things speed up a little more – 

Well if it seems to be real, it’s illusion

For every moment of truth, there’s confusion in life

Love can be seen as the answer, but nobody bleeds for the dancer

Do I need to explain anything here? I don’t think so. Oh, except the bleeding for the dancer part. That’s kind of confusing, but I think it has to do with the idea of God (dancer being an artist, an artist being a creator, a creator emulating God.) God bled for us, but we don’t bleed for God. God being Truth in this context, obviously. 

Ok now we’re at the part of the song where the tempo picks up and Dio leads us into a spiral of darkness –

They say that life’s a carousel

Spinning fast, you’ve got to ride it well

This is The Machine I constantly go on about, and that I wrote about in my novel Minor King. Gotta follow all the rules. Gotta get the proper education. Gotta have the nice car. And the big house. And the perfect job. Gotta compete. Gotta consume. Gotta do it. Then you gotta teach your kids to spin and spin so they don’t get left behind. Because spinning on the carousel is a good life. It’s a freaking carousel, for crying out loud. Who doesn’t love that? 

The world is full of kings and queens

Who blind your eyes and steal your dreams

Ok, now we know who is responsible for the great facade—Kings and Queens. Powerful people. Presidents. Ambassadors. C-level Executives. People who want loyal subjects that give up their silly dreams to serve them (especially artists, who have no value.) Dio uses the word “blind” here with exacting precision–because when you hide the Truth, you literally blind those who seek it.

So how do these people mobilize us? Deceit and confusion – 

And they’ll tell you black is really white

The moon is just the sun at night

And when you walk in golden halls

You get to keep the gold that falls

And here we come to it—money. We happily give up on our dreams to hop on a carousel horse if there’s gold/revenue involved. The people in power know this and confuse us to the point where we don’t know what the hell is real anymore. Then they lure us with gold and we blindly follow. Black is really white. The moon is just the sun at night. Up is down. Wrong is right. And why do they do they keep us blind to the Truth? Power. Kings like being kings. Even some presidents would like to stay in power forever. #FakeNews

It’s heaven and hell, oh no

Fool, fool

You’ve got to bleed for the dancer

Fool, fool

Look for the answer

Fool, fool, fool

Dio’s final plea is for us to reject the darkness and see the light. The Truth. To become woke to the fact that we’re being fed lies. You have to bleed for the dancer. The dancer is the creator. The creator is Truth. Truth is God/Heaven.

Life is a battle between two forces—light and darkness (or Heaven and Hell.) You can break everything in your life down to these two core concepts (trust me, I’m a deconstructionist.) The more light you consume, the more you create, and the more that darkness abates. You see, by its very nature darkness hates light. It doesn’t want a world of dancers/singers/creators/truth seekers. Darkness simply wants loyal subjects mired in confusion so that it can spread—and it only spreads by snuffing out light/Truth/God/Heaven.  

Ronnie James Dio predicted our current national crisis 38 years ago. We’re confused. And for good reason. Darkness wants to win.

But here’s the thing—there is light inside of you. It’s in all of us. We’re born with it and it never leaves–the “real world” just covers it like a grave in the ground as we get older. But it’s there. It’s always there. So stop listening to the media and the politicians and trust your heart. Because that’s where the light is. That’s where the Truth lives. Don’t ever lose heart. 

***

Jim

The Shower
Heartbreakingly Beautiful--My Trip to Honduras

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

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